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[Dvar Torah] Vayeshev

This week’s Parsha, Vayeshev and the festival of Hanukkah both offer us profound lessons about resilience, hope, and the power of light. 

Parashat Vayeshev recounts the story of Joseph, Jacob’s favorite son. Joseph's journey is marked by moments of darkness - betrayal, hardship, and imprisonment. Yet, throughout his trials, Joseph remains resilient and steadfast in his faith. His ability to find hope amidst the darkness eventually leads him to a position of power and allows him to save his family from famine. 

Similarly, the festival of Hanukkah commemorates the miraculous victory of the Maccabees over the powerful Greek army. When the Maccabees reclaimed the desecrated Holy Temple, they found only enough oil to last for one day. Yet, miraculously, the small amount of oil burned for eight days, symbolizing the enduring light of hope and resilience. 

The connection between Vayeshev and Hanukkah lies in the theme of finding hope and faith in the face of adversity. Both narratives teach us that even in our darkest moments, there is always a glimmer of light that can guide us towards a brighter future.  The story of Joseph reminds us that even in the darkest of times, we must hold onto our faith and trust in a higher power. Joseph's unwavering belief in G-d's plan allowed him to rise above his circumstances and ultimately bring about redemption for his family. 

Similarly, during Hanukkah, we light the menorah to symbolize our faith in a brighter future, even when the world seems engulfed in darkness. But finding hope goes beyond faith alone. It requires us to actively seek out the light within ourselves and in others. Just as the Maccabees searched for oil to keep the menorah burning, we must search for the sparks of resilience and hope in our lives. 

As we reflect on Vayeshev and celebrate Hanukkah, let us remember that the light of resilience can guide us through the darkest of times. We have the power to rise above adversity,  and to be a light for others. In every generation, Jews have faced adversaries. Today antisemitism is rampant across the globe and Israel is engulfed in a war. As we all unite and embrace the lessons of Joseph and the Maccabees, we can find strength in our faith and community, hope in our actions, and the courage to overcome any darkness that comes our way. 

May this Vayeshev and Hanukkah inspire us to be beacons of light in a world that often feels enveloped in darkness. Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach! 

Itai, Grade 12